Building a House of Worship: Your Complete Guide to Opening a Church

Since you were a small child, you’ve always felt a strong pull to the church. As an adult, you’ve realized why. You’ve been called to start up your own church and spread the good word around your community.

Being called is the first step to starting a church. Now comes the daunting task of filling out the paperwork to make your church legal, gathering members, finding a building to worship in, and scheduling your first services.

It’s a lot of work but it’s rewarding work. That’s why we’re here to help you through the process. Here is a step by step guide for starting your own church.

Making Plans

Every worthy mission starts with a plan. Without it, you may lose sight of your goals and fail to get your church opened.

We don’t want to see that happen to you which is why we’re going over the basics. The first thing you’re going to need is a name.


The name of your church is important because it serves as an introduction to your potential members. When naming a church, most people use their denomination followed by their location.

That’s the safest naming option but you can get a little creative if you want. Following a different formula may help you stand out from the other churches in your area.


As far as denominations go, you have a lot to choose from. Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Episcopal are the most popular options but they aren’t the only ones by far. Being non-denominational is an okay choice too.


Every church needs a goal. Maybe your goal is to spread the word around to those who don’t have a church family yet. It’s simple but it’s enough to push you forward and give your plans a little more focus.


Your brand is the thing that sets you apart from all the other churches in your community. It’s how your members will perceive you and it has an impact on a lot of the elements of your church. Things like atmosphere or music will be a little different depending on if you’re a traditional church or a contemporary one, for example.

You’ll Need an Employer Identification Number

Now that you have a plan in motion, it’s time to get the legalities out of the way. You’ll need an Employer Identification Number. You won’t be able to open a bank account for your church, handle your taxes, or perform any sort of fundraising to gather money if you don’t.

You can get the forms by simply going to the IRS website and downloading them. Once you’ve gotten your paperwork turned in and been given your EIN, store it in a safe place and proceed to get your other paperwork out of the way.

Other Paperwork

In order to open a bank account and be a legal church, you’re going to need Bylaws and Opening Resolutions, Articles of Incorporation, Statement of Beliefs, Statement of Faith, and 501(c)(3) status certification if you’re planning on being exempted from taxes.

If you run into any trouble (and even if you don’t), it may be a good idea to consult a lawyer. They can go over all the paperwork with you to make sure everything is done correctly.

Forming a Church-Building Team

You can’t get an entire church up and going by yourself. Appoint a management team to help you out. This team is usually comprised of bishops, ushers, elders, councils, and sessions but it can vary from denomination to denomination.

You can choose to fill the positions with people you already know and trust or reach out to the public. Once you have a team together you may want to invest in church management software as well. You can go to to learn a little more about that.

Find an Ideal Worship Space

When choosing a worship space, you’ll have to once again consider rather you want to be a traditional church or a contemporary one. Traditional churches use stain glass, a pulpit, and wooden pews. They tend to rely on natural light rather than fixtures as well.

Contemporary churches use projectors and screens throughout sermons so there needs to be a space for that. There’s usually a stage for the church band to play on. The lighting of the church relies mainly on stage lights so things are a little dark.

You need to think about how many members you’ll have. If you’re in a small area you may be able to get away with a tinier building. If you’re holding sermons in a huge town though, you’re going to need a larger space.

Gathering Members

You’ve got your building up and ready to go but without members to attend the sermons, it’s only a building. You’ll need to network around in order to get people’s attention. If you already have a few members, encourage them to invite their family and friends to your church events.

Send out church letters and invitations to the people in your community to tell them about your events and sermons. Make sure that you have an updated website that’s easy to navigate. Allow potential members to enter their contact information on your website so you can get in touch with them later.

Schedule Your First Services

Once you have a few interested members, you should start planning your first services and events. You want to get a jump on your event planning early.

People are more likely to get involved if you have stuff going on from day one. It gives them a chance to bond with you and the other members of the church.

Starting a Church From the Ground Up

That’s all there is to starting a church. As long as you take your time and consider every variable in your planning process it shouldn’t be hard for you to get your church up and running.

There’s still always a few bumps on the road. When that happens, we’ll be there for you. Check out our blog daily for more articles like this one.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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